LOS ANGELES--Goaltender Jonathan Quick, who was nominated to the U.S. Olympic hockey team this week, is close to returning to the Los Angeles Kings' lineup for the first time since he strained a groin muscle Nov. 12.
Quick is scheduled to take part in the pregame skate Saturday and if all goes well, he will be activated off long-term injured reserve. To open a roster spot and salary-cap space, the Kings would send goalie Martin Jones to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League.
Jones and Chicago goalie Antti Raanta were honored Friday as the NHL's co-rookies of the month in December. Jones was 8-2-0 with a 1.29 goals-against average, a .955 save percentage and three shutouts in 10 games. Jones and Ben Scrivens had filled in admirably for Quick, but both have faltered, one thread in the team's five-game losing streak.
"I'm feeling good. I think the next step is get some game action," Quick said Friday after practicing in El Segundo. "It's up to coaches, trainers to decide when they want me to take that step."
Snow-related travel problems canceled plans for Quick to play two games for Manchester this weekend. He said he's pain-free and ready for NHL competition.
"I think this past week, this trip was really good for me," he said of joining the Kings on their recent four-game trip. "Practicing with the team, I got a lot of work in."
Winger Dustin Brown, also named to Team USA, played 13 minutes 4 seconds Thursday at St. Louis, a season low except for the Dec. 19 game in which he was ejected for kneeing San Jose forward Tomas Hertl.
He has only seven goals and no power-play points since Oct. 24.
"I can be a whole lot better," he said. "If I can pick my game and elevate my game -- and I'm sure there's other guys in here that feel the same way -- our team is going to get better. For me it's just about getting my game back."
Coach Darryl Sutter said he doesn't doubt Brown's effort but acknowledged the winger hasn't produced on the power play.
"Brownie's game has been a struggle for him from Day 1, right from last spring," Sutter said. "He's not playing as assertive of a game along the wall and going to the net, for sure."
Sutter also said he joked with players Friday that when they were winning, everyone asked if they'd ever lose. Now, they're being asked if they'll ever win. "I said, 'Tell them we're going to win every game for the rest of our careers,'" he said.
He would be more concerned, he said, "if it was an older group or guys that you knew weren't dialed in or sort of playing a practice round, but that's not the case. We have guys that haven't been scoring goals, which means we've been getting basically zero secondary scoring, which is hard. There's a fine line. Then your goaltending has to be great. It can't be just average."
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